Why ULP won, NDP lost the November 5th General Elections
EDITOR: The ULP, led by their charismatic and very experienced political leader Dr Ralph Gonsalves, secured an unprecedented 5th term in office in the November 5th General Elections. The party limped across the finish line, battered and bruised. There were some nervous moments for the ULP on the night of the Elections as they faced a strong challenge from the NDP.
The NDP was riding on a ‘wind of change’ which was quite evident in the weeks leading up to the General Elections.
The party had hoped that its promise of jobs, jobs and more jobs would resonate with the electorate resulting in victory at the polls. It painted a gloomy picture of country, outlining the high levels of unemployment and poverty in many areas in an effort to convince Vincentians that the ULP had failed miserably and it was time to once again give the NDP the opportunity to govern the country for the next five years. The party failed in its effort to achieve this. But what went wrong? Why did the NDP fail in its efforts to turn this obvious wind of change into a significant swing away from ULP to emerge victorious? The answer is simple. The NDP did not convince sufficient voters that it was the better party. The CBI program which the party highlighted throughout its campaign seemed to have created much doubt and confusion in the mind of many voters and the party did not do enough to quell those fears, especially when concerns were raised by the leader of the ULP regarding the program. In short, the policies and even the seemingly attractive promises put forward by the NDP, including the promise to pay all CXC fees for students, apparently made little impact on the voters.
The ULP, on the other hand had two main things in its favour. Firstly, as the ruling party, it had the machinery of government and resources at its disposal and was led by a shrewd politician. The party has abeen severely criticized for what some view as ‘unfair tactics’, in its desire to win. This cast my memory back to the period prior to 1989 when the Grenadines, which was then one constituency was spilt into two (Northern and Southern Grenadines), to give the then ruling party, the NDP, an advantage, not only in the 1989 General Elections, but in future General Elections. The ruling party will always have the advantage in any General Elections. Once the Elections are generally ‘free and fair’; that is what matters most.
In my opinion, ULP’s victory at the polls is mainly attributed to its achievements in its first three terms in office. In their last five-year term, the party performed poorly and it is the poor governance of the ULP that left room for the NDP to resurface and put up such a strong challenge. The apparent issues of victimization, poor representation, virtual neglect of constituencies and the obvious lack of transparency seemed to have turned off many voters, even their own supporters. So, were it not for its strong record of achievement, the ULP may have failed in its bid to win a 5th consecutive term in office. Does this strengthen the view held by many that no party should remain in office for more than two or three terms? Did the ruling party become too complacent and ‘stale’ after two terms in office?
The NDP, by making significant in-roads into ULP strongholds while solidifying its position in the six
constituencies it now holds, lives to fight another day. How the party performs as an opposition this time around will determine how much of a challenge it would be in 2025. It would be interesting to see what level of governance the ULP provides in the next five years.